Screenwriter Robert Presnell Jr. Dies at Age 71

Robert Presnell Jr., a second-generation screenwriter and husband of actress Marsha Hunt, has died at the age of 71.

The actress said her husband of 40 years died quietly in his sleep Saturday in their Sherman Oaks home. Presnell, known for the encyclopedic range of his knowledge and his quiet sense of humor, was partially blind and had suffered from heart ailments for many years.

Presnell had worked as a reporter for the Milwaukee Journal before turning to fiction and magazine writing. During the late 1930s he wrote, produced and directed radio shows in New York City.

He moved to the San Fernando Valley in the mid-1940s, continuing in radio until the early 1950s, when he shifted his focus to screen and television script writing. In radio, he directed “I Love a Mystery” and “The Orson Welles Show.” His wife performed in only one of his shows, a radio comedy entitled “10 Greenwich,” in which she co-starred with Alfred Drake.


Motion Picture Credits

Among his motion picture credits, some of which were co-written with others, were “Man in the Attic,” “A Matter of Life and Death,” “Legend of the Lost,” “Let No Man Write My Epitaph,” “All My Darling Daughters” and “The Third Day.”

In television, he wrote for series such as “McCloud,” “Mr. Novak,” “The Virginian,” “Twilight Zone” and “Dr. Kildare;” made-for-TV movies, including “Smashup on Interstate 5,” and the mini-series “Rich Man, Poor Man, Book II.”

He also wrote a novel, “Edgell’s Island,” in 1951.


His father, Robert Presnell Sr., who died in 1969, also was a screenwriter.

The younger Presnell was active with Amnesty International and the anti-nuclear organization SANE.

Besides his wife, he leaves a son, Peter Presnell. There will be no funeral service.